Food Allergy or Seasonal Flank Alopecia?

February 14, 2008

Thank you Jan –

I live in South Florida and have a 1 year old (birthday 2/15) male bulldog, Winston (70lbs) who on one previous occasion (July) had spotting (looked like someone sprinkled oil on his back and left spots) along the ridge of his back.   It lasted a few weeks and wasn’t anything drastic.

Dark spots (minimal hair loss) located about rump wrinkles….

Winston did not have any discomfort (no scratching) nor did he show any signs of knowing about what we saw.    Late January, his spotting (hair loss) re-occured in full force (I brush him and the driveway looks like a hair storm hit…)  along his shoulders, back, rump and hind quarters.

I have been reading up about the seasonal flank alopecia and think that he may have that (he is inside all day long while I am at work until darkfall).  I take him on regular (long) walks every night and several times a day on the weekends (morning, afternoon & night).

He is a HEALTHY eater… too fast, but never leaves a morsal….  Hahahaha

But I wonder about his diet and if that may have instigated a skin condition (or allergic reaction).

I have had him on Royal Canin – Large Breed Puppy formula since he was 4months old.   However, in January, I began to switch (mixing) him to Royal Canin – Bulldog formula. Coincidently, the hair loss began at this time. Now that we are in mid February he continues to lose major amounts of hair and I don’t know what to do.

I’ve been reading on your website and others about the possibility of diet being the cause of bulldog skin conditions….

But, I also see that you list Royal Canin as a preferred brand???  I’m confused…. we are still using the same brand, just moved to bulldog specific formula.  Can this be the problem?

Do you think that the hair loss was triggered by the change of foods…. or SFA?

Any suggestions? HELP

Thank you in advance for you help.

Michelle & Winston

——answer——–

Hi Michele & Winston,

Sorry for any confusion.  There are always conflicting opinions when it comes
to  english bulldogs and the connection between diet and skin.

On my site I list Royal Canin as the most popular brand according to a survey
of my bulldog owners.

That said, I don’t feed it to my Archie because he seems to be allergic to
chicken, the primary protein source in it.

And since your Winston’s hair loss started with your switch to RC B24, I
would definitely be suspicious of a food allergy.

What I currently feed my bulldog Archie is either Canidae or California Naturals
lamb meal and rice formulas.  I have found lamb to be much easier for bulldogs
with allergies.

This is not a set deal.  Some dogs are allergic to different things.  But the
most allergy producing proteins according to my vet skin specialist are
beef, soy, and chicken in that order.

Try switching him to one of these two foods, slowly, over a week or two, and
see what happens.  You should see results within two weeks, as I did with my
Archie.  It’s pretty basic food so he may not be crazy over eating it.  If he
won’t eat it add a little canned Wellness Lamb and Rice formula.

If it doesn’t work you may need to try Duck and Sweet Potato or Venison
and Sweet Potato formulas and see how he reacts to them.

It’s a matter of trial and error with food allergies.

About Seasonal Flank Alopecia, it doesn’t look like that’s what’s bothering
Winston because SFA shows up on the shoulders or sides of the bulldog,
whereas food allergies tend to show up on the top and along the back.

It is also more common in the northern states where there is less daylight
during the winters, like Minnesota.  But it can appear anywhere.

You can read about SFA and see some photos here:
http://www.vivyland.com/articles/sfa.html

It is always good to let your bulldog get some sun, it is a great natural (and
inexpensive!) anti-bacterial.  Just 20 minutes a day is good.

I hope this helps.  Please keep me posted on his progress.

Your Bulldog Pal,
Jan

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2 Responses to “Food Allergy or Seasonal Flank Alopecia?”


  1. i have a french bulldog and he is also on royal canin bulldog which i started him on a few months ago and that is also when i noticed a change in his coat. now the vet is saying alopecia, but maybe i should try switching his food. he is also inside the house almost all the time. the vet recommended melatonin 4mg every 12hrs


    • That is one of the methods of treatment. It may work by stimulating the hormones that seasonally affect growth of hair, especially since he is indoors most of the time. Diet is not usually a factor so as long as he’s not losing patches of hair he’s probably ok. Chicken can be a food allergen and personally I avoid it, choosing a venison or lamb formula instead. Pick a high quality brand.


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